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International Reserve Holdings with Sovereign Risk and Costly Tax Collection

  • Joshua Aizenman
  • Nancy Marion

We derive a precautionary demand for international reserves in the presence of sovereign risk and show that political-economy considerations modify the optimal level of reserve holdings. A greater chance of opportunistic behaviour by future policy makers and political corruption reduce the demand for international reserves and increase external borrowing. We provide evidence to support these findings. Consequently, the debt-to-reserves ratio may be less useful as a vulnerability indicator. A version of the Lucas Critique suggests that if a high debt-to-reserves ratio is a symptom of opportunistic behaviour, a policy recommendation to increase international reserve holdings may be welfare-reducing. Copyright 2004 Royal Economic Society.

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Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 114 (2004)
Issue (Month): 497 (07)
Pages: 569-591

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:114:y:2004:i:497:p:569-591
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  1. Van Wijnbergen, Sweder, 1990. "Cash/debt buy-backs and the insurance value of reserves," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1-2), pages 123-131, August.
  2. Vito Tanzi & Hamid Reza Davoodi, 1997. "Corruption, Public Investment, and Growth," IMF Working Papers 97/139, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Alesina, Alberto & Tabellini, Guido, 1990. "A Positive Theory of Fiscal Deficits and Government Debt," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 403-14, July.
  4. Detragiache, Enrica, 1996. "Fiscal Adjustment and Official Reserves in Sovereign Debt Negotiations," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(249), pages 81-95, February.
  5. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Lizondo, JoseSaul & Mathieson, Donald J., 1987. "The stability of the demand for international reserves," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 251-282, September.
  7. Hipple, F Steb, 1979. "A Note on the Measurement of the Holding Cost of International Reserves," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 61(4), pages 612-14, November.
  8. Ben-Bassat, Avraham & Gottlieb, Daniel, 1992. "Optimal international reserves and sovereign risk," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3-4), pages 345-362, November.
  9. Frenkel, Jacob A & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1981. "Optimal International Reserves: A Stochastic Framework," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 91(362), pages 507-14, June.
  10. Cukierman, Alex & Edwards, Sebastian & Tabellini, Guido, 1992. "Seigniorage and Political Instability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 537-55, June.
  11. Elbadawi, Ibrahim A, 1990. "The Sudan Demand for International Reserve: A Case of a Labour-Exporting Country," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 57(225), pages 73-89, February.
  12. Eaton, Jonathan & Gersovitz, Mark, 1980. "LDC participation in international financial markets : Debt and reserves," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 3-21, February.
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